The Smelter Café needed a fire extinguisher, Do you?

The Smelter Café is a small café in the seaside town of Wallaroo. Within the Café they have a fire extinguisher that we regularly service for them.

The Smelter Café is locally owned and run. It employs 6 people.

On Friday the 9th of May 2017 there was an unexpected power failure. While they were investigating what was happening a member of the public ran into the café telling them that the outside fuse box where the power came into their shop was on fire. They quickly used the fire extinguisher to extinguish the fire saving the shop.

The electrical company was contacted and quickly had the connection restored.

“if I didn’t have a working fire extinguisher I would have lost my business to the fire”

Dave Wreford

So what does this mean for you?

Firstly did you know that you are required to have a fire extinguisher in your shop, café, restaurant, warehouse, factory or office by both the building legislation and work health and safety legislation?

These two pieces of legislation also required you to keep any installed fire equipment in a working condition.   This is best done by complying with the relevant part of Australian Standard 1851 – Routine service of fire protection systems and equipment.

You may also recall from our previous article that it is a condition of your insurance, refer to our interview with Alan Wilson Insurance Brokers.

Don’t have a fire extinguisher?

If you don’t have a fire extinguisher you can either purchase one on-line or from your local fire protection contractor.

We recommend using a fire protection contractor as they will ensure that you have the correct fire extinguisher and that it is installed in the correct location.

If you want to know more about what fire extinguisher you need refer to our recent article on this topic.

I have a fire extinguisher now what?

We all have a car and we all get it regularly serviced to ensure that it stays working.  A fire extinguisher is no different.  To ensure that it will work when you need it get it regularly serviced by your local fire protection contractor.

“Bob from YP Fire and Safety had a new working fire extinguisher in my Cafe within 4/5 hours, I can’t be happier with the response”

Dave Wreford

It is critical that this fire protection contractor is competent to do this service.  The only way to ensure this is to ensure that they are registered with the Fire Protection Accreditation Scheme (FPAS).  This is a scheme that independently verifies that the individual undertaking the service work is competent.  We will be issuing a further article in the future on this accreditation scheme.

I have a working fire extinguisher, anything else?

The last component is the training to use the fire extinguisher.  In our case study the fire extinguisher was used by a CFS volunteer who had received training on the use of fire extinguisher.  Since this incident Dave and his staff has spent time with Bob learning how to use their fire extinguisher.

If you want to know more about your requirements for Emergency Planning please refer to our blog on this topic.

But will a fire really happen?

This is one of the most common questions we get asked.  The answer is it could and when it does it is often devastating.

Did you know that the South Australian Metropolitan Fire Service respond to around 1,200 structural fires every year (source SAMFS Annual Report 2015-16).  Given that the fire at The Smelter Café was not reported to the fire service we estimate that the total number of fires in Adelaide are at least 5,000 each year.  It is therefore likely that over your working life you are likely to experience at least one fire.  While there is a low probability of a fire, there is a high probability that there will be a fire at some business every week.

Lessons learnt

Fires do happen and they will happen to you at some time.

Every work place (and home) should have a working fire extinguisher.

A working fire extinguisher can save your business!

So keep small business operating, next time you are in Wallaroo visit The Smelter Café for a great meal, coffee or snack.  Follow them on Facebook!

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